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Melbourne Football Club

VFL: Grand Final heartbreak for Casey

VFL Grand Final: Jade Rawlings post-match Casey coach Jade Rawlings chats to Ben Gibson after the VFL Grand Final defeat to Box Hill

CASEY was overrun by Box Hill in the final term of the VFL Grand Final, suffering a heartbreaking 10-point loss at Etihad Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

Box Hill kicked three goals to none in the last quarter to surpass the Demons and claim the premiership.

Casey Demons 8.14 (62) defeated by Box Hill Hawks 10.12 (72).

When Jay Lockhart struck the scoreboard straight after half-time, Casey had some breathing space with a 22-point lead, but the momentum was quickly swung back in the favour of the Hawks.

The margin was cut to just nine points by the final change as a spiteful melee irrupted on the three quarter-time siren.

With the game on the line, Box Hill came hard at the Demons in the last term with skipper Andrew Moore drawing his side within two points, before Kieran Lovell goaled at the 13-minute mark to give the Hawks their first lead of the match.

As Casey failed to penetrate forward, Dylan Moore was the recipient of a free kick in front of goal and slotted his third major to seal the Hawks victory.

An eventful final term saw Josh Wagner leave the field in a daze after flying high over Marc Pittonet and hitting his head on the ground, before Tim Smith went aerial to take an impressive mark just moments later.

But the Hawks were too good in the fundamental areas of the contest with some telling smothers and gutsy plays helping them pinch the win.

“After three quarter-time I felt like we were still in a good position, but momentum was definitely going their way,” senior coach Jade Rawlings told Melbourne Media.

“It was a lot to do with the work around the ball and our inability to do the basics well.”

The Demons fired in the early stages of the match and were able to get the game on their terms with a ferocious attack on the ball.

Casey laid 20 tackles in the opening quarter, applying immense pressure to Box Hill to nail the first four majors of the afternoon.

Both sides burnt opportunities in front of the sticks in the second quarter with 14 minutes wasting away before Moore finally kicked truly for the Hawks.

In a low scoring term, Moore did the damage for a second time with a crucial after-the-siren goal to cut the margin to a manageable 17 points at the main break.

“We had the game exactly where we wanted, probably with the exception of accuracy,” Rawlings said.

“It was everything we wanted until half-time.”

Declan Keilty and Harry Petty worked in tandem to cut off Box Hill’s flourish’s forward, intercepting the ball consistently in defence.

But as the trend of the game showed, the Hawks got more supply in the latter stages of the match and eventually wore Casey down, converting their dominance on the scoreboard.

“Unfortunately it looked like we were out on our legs in the last quarter,” Rawlings said.

“They were running faster, harder, more holes were opening up for them.

“With the skill that they have it definitely suited them more than us in the last quarter.”

After being left out of Melbourne’s Preliminary Final side, Bayley Fritsch pulled on the Casey guernsey for the first time in 2018 and played a valuable role across half-back.

The 21-year-old had 20 disposals and showed his poise to help the Demons rebound effectively all afternoon.

“To have the preparation that he had and still be able to perform, it was pretty impressive,” Rawlings said.

The second half fade-out is a disappointing end to Casey’s season, failing to reflect the work the group put in throughout the year.

The Demons finished the home and away season in second position on the VFL ladder, but couldn’t overcome Box Hill when it mattered most.

“Unfortunately we’re all going to have some pretty restless nights over the next few weeks just thinking about the opportunity that was lost,” Rawlings said.

CASEY DEMONS      4.4  5.9  8.11  8.14 (62)

BOX HILL HAWKS    1.1  3.4   7.8  10.12 (72)

CASEY GOALS

Bugg, Kennedy-Harris, Lefau, Lockhart, Machaya, Pedersen, Scott, T. Smith

CASEY BEST

Fritsch, C. Wagner, Keilty, Petty, Bugg, Vince